OXFORD – A recent Press Herald editorial implied that Maine voters can’t be trusted, and suggested lawmakers should change what the voters just approved, a referendum allowing a four-season resort casino in Oxford (“Lawmakers should fix unfair casino zone,” Dec. 15).

The editorial demanded fairness in gaming expansion, but illogically explained its position by pointing out what lawmakers did to a law governing an unrelated industry that is totally new to Maine.

That’s comparing apples to oranges. Gaming is not new to Maine. It’s an existing and tightly regulated industry, and furthermore, voters have ample experience with gaming proposals, all the way back to when they authorized the Maine State Lottery.

The editorial claimed the legislation’s 100-mile “exclusion zone” is unfair.

But Maine’s mileage provision separating gaming facilities has been law since 2003, when voters approved a measure that established Hollywood Slots. The issue was debated again during the 2010 campaign, and was right out in the open.

Maine voters have now twice approved a mileage provision, and that’s astute, because Maine will effectively be in a partnership with the Oxford resort casino. Let me explain.

Most businesses deliver 5 percent sales tax to the state. In contrast, the Oxford resort casino will be taxed at 46 percent of gross slot machine revenues. (That’s six times what a casino in Las Vegas pays, where the same rate is 7.75 percent.)

These taxes are taken right off the top; the state collects its cut before any expenses are paid. That is how the Oxford resort casino will produce an estimated $60 million in annual revenue for Maine, to fund a variety of programs, particularly education budgets in all 16 counties.

Then, after operations and expenses are paid for, Maine will tax the Oxford resort casino again, on net profits.

This unique high taxation and double taxation law is one reason a resort casino is unlike any other business, and why the state effectively is our partner in this business.

Detailed market studies have thoroughly researched the resort’s size, location and prospects for success, and the resort’s role as a revenue producer for the state was very carefully written into the legislation.

Regulation to control expansion exists in every gaming jurisdiction in the country, and logically, a mileage provision is in Maine’s financial interest.

Another good reason for the provision is voter caution. Black Bear Entertainment, the developers of the Oxford resort casino, wrote the 2010 referendum. We used language similar to what was in the 2003 referendum, because we recognized that Maine people are very conservative when it comes to gaming expansion.

For example, in 2003, Mainers voted for a proposal that passed their muster, but voted against a proposal they didn’t like. The mileage provision honors Maine voters very cautious approach to gaming expansion.

Any future proposals to expand gaming in Maine can include language that would either remove the mileage provision, or leave it in place as the status quo.

Petitions now circulating to introduce casinos in Biddeford, Lewiston and Calais seek to remove the provision.

If these proposals reach the ballot, Maine voters will either approve the mileage provision again by voting down these proposals, or dispose of it by approving them.

The most important consideration is the will of Maine voters.

If fairness is the Press Herald’s true motivation, then how about being fair to them? proposing that lawmakers now change the legislation, after the voters have spoken, you are saying legislators should invalidate the will of the people.

After Maine citizens put in the time and effort to study the issues and go to the polls on Nov. 2, it is unfair and unwise for the Legislature to now rewrite their intent.

Mainers will face future gaming proposals, and are fully capable of vetting these proposals.

With their approval of Hollywood Slots and now the Oxford resort casino, Maine voters have been in charge of casino-style gaming expansion, and that shouldn’t change. History shows they approve the good ones and reject the bad ones, and there is wisdom in that history that should not be ignored.

As we understand his previous public statements on gaming expansion, Gov.-elect Paul LePage seems to agree.

He appears to have faith in Mainers’ ability to determine which proposals are in the best interests of Maine, and which are not.

To argue otherwise, and to promote legislative shortcuts to gaming expansion, ignores the inherent wisdom of the citizens.